With “The Great Gatsby” in the wings (I’m reserving this weekend to re-read the book; how much fun will that be?), Baz Luhrmann is in the news — and the Hollywood Reporter has a fascinating profile of him this week, drawing parallels between his life and that of Jay Gatsby. Both men turned their backs on troubled childhood, both changed their names, both nonetheless are drawn to the past. Luhrmann was born Mark Anthony Luhrmann, but changed his name at school (taking it from the TV character Basil Brush, whose hair resembled his) and was never Mark again. He’s spent years obsessed with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, since first encountering it nine years ago:
The idea of filming Fitzgerald’s work came to Luhrmann when he listened to it as a book-on-tape while traveling on the Trans-Siberian Express in 2004.
“The train was basically full of Chinese people smuggling stuff into Mongolia,” he recalls. “I had two bottles of red wine and the new iPod with two recorded books. There’s Siberia ticking by, and the birch trees, and the wine bottle, and I’m listening [to Gatsby] — and when it ended, I had inconsolable melancholia. I was like, ‘Can we do all that again?’ “
The HR story’s a good read. Haven’t seen Luhrmann’s “Gatsby” yet (it’ll be a week Monday, and my “Gatsby”-loving teenage nephew is joining me), but I’m feeling hopeful.